We're excited to have Lori Tanimura as our featured Student of the Month photographer for September in our gallery. Our opening reception is this coming Tuesday, September 1.  Lori's photographs convey the peaceful side of animals and the lighting on them reveals the beauty and texture of their coat.  Be sure to come in and see the soulful image of her dog Raleigh as a puppy that she describes below.

This month Kathleen Bullard talked to Lori Tanimura about her experience as a photographer.

If you could sum up this work in one word what would it be?

"Blessings." The theme of the photos is "Rescue Me," but each picture represents a special blessing in my life. After being diagnosed with a severe case of systemic lupus erythematosus, my list of activities were curtailed for many years. Who knew that someday I would find my wings and be able to take such photos as these? Each one seems like a major stepping stone to freedom: a freedom beyond expectation or even beyond my imagination.

Which photograph has meant the most to you?

The photograph of Raleigh as a puppy in 1999 won third place in a local photo contest. It was the first time a picture of mine had even been recognized with merit by others outside my circle of family and friends. But even more importantly Raleigh was the love of my life. He passed away last year, the day after Valentine's Day.

Where have you found inspiration photographically?


Who do you feel like you were making this work for?

Myself - primarily for the memories.



Was there anything about yourself or something else that you discovered making these pictures?

 I discovered that my favorite activity is relaxing with my dogs in an air-conditioned room, looking at photos, and reminiscing about the adventures.

Was there a class, instructor, pro talk or trip that really helped you connect with photography?

For my first trip to the Galapagos in February of 2012, my camera was a Nikon D90 shooting in the fully automatic mode. In May of the same year, after taking Photo Boot Camp with Mark Comon, a whole new world opened up.

Is there a piece of equipment that you really love?

The 80-300mm zoom lens is what I used to capture moments with animals at a distance.

What thread do you feel ties these pictures together besides you taking them?

The thread that ties these photos together is mainly my interest in animals, both domestic and wild. Observing behavior or interacting with them brings a fascination that feeds my soul.

What is your advice to someone starting in photography?

I highly recommend taking Photo Boot Camp with Mark. Be sure to do the photographic assignments, which are to take pictures including certain parameters learned that particular week.

SealDo you have any projects you're planning to do next?

I am working on a photo book of my most recent trip back to the Galapagos in 2015. I also plan to make greeting cards out of my photos.

What's your favorite color?

Tanzanite blue

 See her work at our First Tuesday art opening Tuesday, September 1st from 5:30-7:00 pm.
Learn More: HERE.


Boot Camp students

When I was hired at PAUL'S PHOTO about nine months ago, I was only supposed to fill in and help out for a little while. I knew little to nothing about cameras. I believe I asked what DSLR stood for and received several concerned stares from everyone working here.

I have a background in art, and so the creative process of photography really appealed to me, and it was inspiring to spend each day surrounded by Mark, the sales guys, and the customers who love to talk photography all day, every day. It still is. It's part of the reason I decided to stick around.

For the first couple weeks, I felt like I was picking up on a lot just from listening to everyone talk about photography all the time (and from asking a ton of potentially ridiculous questions), but there were a few technical questions I felt I still needed answered.

Plus, all this talk of cameras was starting to make me want a camera of my own.

I decided I needed to take Photo Boot Camp. It's our most popular series at the Creative Photo Academy, and this is because it takes new photographers from the basics of learning their camera buttons to being able to discuss things like shutter speed, aperture, and depth of field.

The series is six weeks long, one class per week, with homework assignments each time. Each class covers a basic topic in photography: The Camera, Exposure, Light, Flash, Focus, Composition, and Sharing Photos.

Mark created the Boot Camp lessons and has been teaching the class for over 20 years -- actually, I think Boot Camp and I are almost the exact same age -- 25! He's taught it so often and seen so many students pass through the door that he's got it down to an exact science. I could tell, sitting in class, that he could almost predict the exact questions each of us were going to ask him.

One of my photos from my homework assignments! Not the greatest photo of roses in the world but definitely 120% better than photos I used to take.
One of my photos from my homework assignments! Not the greatest photo of roses in the world but definitely 120% better than photos I used to take.

And if any of you know Mark, you know how enthusiastic and full of energy he is pretty much all the time. If you think he's in in his element when he's talking to customers behind the counter, you should see him when he's teaching a class.  He knows how to explain the concepts so that "science people" and "artsy people" are on the same page.

This isn't to say that the class isn't sometimes frustrating.  Of course it is -- it's always difficult to learn something that is completely foreign to you. The homework assignments were crucial here -- although they were sometimes frustrating for me to accomplish because I felt like I wasn't doing anything correctly (and several times, I wasn't), the assignments forced me to get out and practice each week.

They also showed me how I was progressing in comparison to my classmates, and looking at their photos taught me more about the types of photos I enjoy looking at and want to take in the future.

Now, when beginning students ask me for a recommendation of a class to take, I tell them about my experience in Photo Boot Camp. It's easy for me to relate to a lot of Beginner level students since I started off knowing even less than a lot of them know or knew before they started, and I hope it's encouraging for students to see that I started off from square one and can now hold my own in conversations about photography or photo shoots in not very much time at all.

Next step: learn to master photo editing programs!

If you'd like to try out Photo Boot Camp, our next session starts off in the beginning of February (your choice of Tuesday morning or Wednesday evening sessions). Click here to view the full schedule and details.

Great landscape and scenic photos feature stunning colors and depth.  If atmospheric conditions are not ideal, capturing these colors and depth is a difficult chore.  Adding a Circular Polarizing Filter to your lens offers a virtually instant fix and dramatically improves your photos.

polarizing filter
You’re looking out over a great scene.  You take the picture and realize the color you captured is not what you saw.  Why?  The culprit is most often excess glare from reflected light.  Glare off of the water, unwanted sky reflection off of foliage and haze from reflections off of water vapor or airborne dust reduces the contrast and color of your prized scene.

Eliminating the glare is simple: add a polarizing filter to your lens.  The filter removes glare from your photo exactly like Polarized sun-glasses remove glare from the road while you’re driving.

polarizing filter

How does it work?  A Circular-Polarizing Filter is a special glass that screws to the front of your camera lens.  The special element rotates in the filter to eliminate reflected light.  Once the filter is attached you look through the lens (camera viewfinder or LCD screen) and rotate the filter to adjust the axis or polarization.  Rotating the filter 90° on the lens controls the polarization effect.  Rotate the filter by turning the outer knurled ring and look for the sky or water to darken,  or for foliage to become richer and warmer.

The technical stuff.  A Circular-Polarizing Filter is most effective 90° from the sun; on the horizon during mid-day, looking north or south during sunset and sunrise hours and on subjects perpendicular to the sky under shade or overcast light.  A polarizing filter is not effective eliminating glare from metal subjects (i.e: chrome bumper).

A Circular-Polarizing Filter causes a 1.5-2 stop loss in light so it is not recommended for general-purpose use.   You can use a Polarizer in any camera mode and no adjustment is required.

polarizing filter

Which Circular-Polarizing filter do I choose?  Like most photo accessories you have a choice of qualities… bargain, good, better or best.  B+W, Hoya and ProMaster are the preferred brands and offer a choice in quality.  We recommend multi-coated filters for all digital photographers and thinner hi-tech glass and coatings for increased performance.  The ProMaster HGX Circular Polarizer to fit your favorite scenery lens is recommended.

You can browse our selection of polarizing filters online by clicking here, or stop by the store to speak with one of our photo experts.

Happy photographing!

Written by Mark Comon


Do you love those amazing wispy water scenic photos? Waterfalls, rivers and surf often look best when shot with a slow shutter speed to capture the milky water effect.  Daytime conditions make it difficult to shoot with a shutter speed slow enough to blur.  Adding a Neutral Density filter to the lens takes away light and allows for sufficiently slow shutter speeds.  To blur water shutter speeds from ¼ second or slower are required.  The longer the shutter is open, the more wispy or milky the water becomes.

neutral density filter
With Neutral Density Filter (to soften water) & Gradient Filter (to darken sky)
neutral density filter
Without a filter

Portrait photographers love to open aperture, blur the background, and isolate the subject.  In sunny conditions there is too much light to shoot at f-stop 1.4, 2.0 or 2.8.  The best answer is to add a ND to the lens to reduce the light and allow for wide-open apertures even in bright sunshine.

What settings do I use?  For portrait or landscape photography Aperture priority (A or Av mode) is recommended.  For the wispy water effect use a sturdy tripod, add an 8x ND filter and close the aperture to F-16.  You should find speeds ¼ to ½ second in bright sunlight and 2 to 4 seconds in shady conditions.  You’ll make a photo with a nice blurry effect.  For portraits add the filter and open the lens.  You should have shutter speeds 1/8000 to 1/2000 outdoors.

neutral density filter
With filter

What do you mean Neutral Density?  Neutral meaning no color or no color effect on the picture (gray).  Density meaning darker or less light.  We use the ND filter to take away light for a creative effect.

The technical stuff.  An ND filter is available with a range of densities from one to ten stops loss.  The amount of density can be graded two ways…. By X’s or decimal.  A one-stop loss ND would be 2x (double the shutter speed) or 0.3 density.  Two stops loss is 4x or 0.6, three stops 8x or 0.9 and four stops 16x or 1.2.  Nine and ten stop ND filters (400x) and Variable ND filters (density is adjustable) are available.

neutral density filter
With filter

Which ND filter do I choose?  Like most photo accessories you have a choice of qualities… bargain, good, better or best.  B+W, Hoya and ProMaster are the preferred brands and offer a choice in quality.  We recommend multi-coated filters for all digital photographers and thinner hi-tech glass and coatings for increased performance.  ProMaster HD-Digital 8x Neutral Density filter is recommended for most photographers.

You can view the filters in our online store by clicking here, or stop by PAUL'S PHOTO to have one of our photo experts help you find the best filter for your camera.

23845 Hawthorne Blvd
Torrance, CA 90505
Open 9am-6pm Monday- Saturday
12pm-5pm Sundays

Written by Mark Comon

Lightroom: The Photographer’s Tool
Mark Comon & Michael Pliskin

Editing your photos in the digital age is a necessity.  Photographers have many choices in editing software, from Lightroom to Photoshop to Photoshop Elements, and even more! It's hard to keep all of these programs straight and figure out which one is the best for your particular style of photography.

Lightroom is an extremely popular choice among many established photographers. The interface is quite intuitive, yet it offers the power to accomplish so many things with your photos in just one program: you can store, sort, edit, add captions and watermarks, and share your photos online or prepare to share them in print.

Lightroom is broken down into a few basic modules, or sections. Library Module is ideal for importing, filing and sorting your photos.  You can create a database of your photos.  The Develop Module is all about “darkroom” work.  Cropping, exposure and color corrections, plus selectively lightening & darkening your photos to make them perfect.  The Map, Book, Slideshow, Print and Web modules are all about sharing your photos… whether in print or on the web.

lightroom tips


Lightroom Tips for Beginners & Advanced Photographers from Michael Pliskin

For Beginners: Since I started using Adobe Lightroom for my Digital RAW photo workflow, I rarely need to use Photoshop for most of my work.  Lightroom creates a searchable, visual library-database of my photos and allows me to easily process and enhance the raw images with the Develop module.

I can then make prints, proof sheets, package prints (like the old school photos with a large image and a bunch of wallet size ones), greeting cards, photo books, web galleries and slideshows directly from within Lightroom. I can export jpgs to Facebook, Flickr or other online social media with ease and relative simplicity.

For more advanced photographers: Did you know that you can easily and automatically create a sharpening mask in the Lightroom Develop Module's Detail panel to limit sharpening to only the edges of the objects in your photo?  By doing this, you will also not  be sharpening unwanted noise and grain.

1. In the Navigator window in the upper left of the screen, select the 1:1 view mode to enlarge your image to fill size.

2. Hold down the Option or Alt key while moving the Masking slider in the Detail panel. You will see the smooth or solid color areas of the image turn black, while the detailed areas and edges of details remain white.

3. Stop moving the slider when all the solid color or non-detailed areas of the image are black. (Usually when the sliders is somewhere between 40 and 60.)  The sharpening will then be applied to only the areas in white on the mask.  (The basic rule of Masks is "Black hides; White reveals")

Get started with Lightroom on September 8, 15, or 29 in one of our in-depth workshops with Michael Pliskin. For more details and to register, click here.

Creating depth in a scene is essential to mastering landscape photography. Here Mark Comon uses his annual trip to Monument Valley as an example of choosing the perfect location, creating depth with light and perspective, and ultimately coming away with great photos every year. 

Monument Valley

Creating Depth in Landscape Photography
Mark Comon

We have all seen great landscape photos…. Which is your favorite famous scenic photo? Ansel Adams’ Half Dome, Merced River, Winter comes to mind. That photo and most of your favorites will have one common bond, the creation of depth in the photo to draw the viewer into the scene.  A photograph is two dimensional and we have to build the illusion of the third dimension with the use of light, lens and aperture.

Monument Valley

In a stunning location like Monument Valley, many people think it’s simple to create stunning photos.  Use of light to create a deeper picture is paramount.  Using the shadows on the dunes and sunlight on the Totem is a classic technique.

From Hunt’s Mesa it’s imperative to build a foreground and background.  From a great distance a telephoto lens is used to stack the elements into an effective composition.

Monument Valley

The Ear of the Wind is an impressive feature, but when the rider and sheep are included the photo can become quite special.  Controlling the amount of focus (depth of field) by choosing a moderate aperture gives you  the three dimensional effect you're looking for.

**Mark and the Creative Photo Academy will be headed back to Monument Valley this October. You can read more about that trip by clicking here


firmware updates paul's photo

Firmware updates are important!

Firmware is the “computer program” that runs your digital device.  Your digital photo equipment (cameras, lenses, flashes, scanners and printers) can be updated and their “working performance” improved with a firmware update.  Every day engineers from the manufacturers are correcting faults, improving performance and adding features to today’s digital equipment.  Today you can update and improve the features and performance through firmware updates.

Frustrated with slow start-up and iffy focus on your camera?  Try a firmware update to improve the workings of your camera.  To be eligible you must own an authorized version of the equipment and it must be registered with the manufacturer.  If you haven’t registered, do it today!

How do you know if you need an update?

In the setup menu of your camera find the info icon and check the firmware version.  Note the version of the firmware which is currently installed in your equipment.  Next we’ll compare your camera’s firmware version versus the latest update available from the manufacturer by visiting your manufacturer’s website.   Check the current firmware at the service and support or download page.

How do you update?

If you need to update it’s quite simple.  In most cases all you do is download the update to your computer.  Insert your camera’s memory card (formatted in the camera before-hand) into your card reader.  Drag the program from your hard drive or desktop to the memory card.  Insert the memory card into the camera (power off).  Turn the camera on and follow the icons… new firmware detected (OK) install (yes)… that’s it!

We currently recommend that you check your firmware monthly for the latest updates and revisions.  It takes 30 minutes to update… you’ll love the difference!  If you can’t do it PAUL'S PHOTO  is always happy to update your firmware for you … it costs $50 and takes a few hours!

We've been busy over here at Paul's! Here's a look at what's been going on around the store these past few weeks:

hybrid hangout
Suzette Allen, Will Crockett, Rob Domaschuk

Hybrid Hangout Weekend

We hosted our first ever Hybrid Hangout Weekend this past week at Paul's: a set of seminars, photo shoots, and product displays meant to help spread our excitement for Hybrid photography to our customers.

We had reps from all of the mirrorless camera and lens systems: Panasonic, Olympus, Fuji, Sony, and Zeiss.  The reps took time from their busy schedules to answer customer questions about the growing market segment of the smaller, lighter, and very capable mirrorless cameras.

Three of the pioneering instructors of mirrorless systems, Will Crockett, Suzette Allen, and Rob Domaschuk were speaking about how the mirror less systems are perfect for the hybrid production of merging stills, video and audio into a finished product. If you missed  Suzette's lecture you can catch her again here at PAUL'S PHOTO this coming fall!

hybrid hangout
Hybrid seminar in the Creative Photo Academy classroom

New Products: Panasonic and Fuji

Panasonic and Fuji camera systems are part of a newer growing market of mirrorless camera systems. The cameras are smaller and lighter than their DSLR counterparts, but they don't sacrifice performance for size. PAUL'S PHOTO  is once again a Panasonic dealer and we are now stocking the legendary GH camera system now in its 3rd generation with the GH3. The GH3 has excellent still capabilities but its the video performance that has set a new standard in the DSLR/mirrorless market.

Another mirrorless system we carry at PAUL'S is Fuji's excellent X-series of cameras.  From the fully featured pro level X-pro 1 to the newest smallest XM-1 there is an X camera for just about any budget. Fuji's X-Trans sensor is a proprietary sensor with unbelievable low light capabilities that have to be seen to be believed. Very few cameras today can deliver the image quality these cameras offer.

We are also stocking the ever adorable Fuji instax cameras, which are perfect for anyone looking to relive the nostalgia of polaroid cameras (and they make great gifts, especially for kids and teens!)

fuji camera
Fuji to the rescue

To stay updated on all of our store news, you can subscribe to our monthly newsletter here.


By Mark Comon

Pro photographers have long loved the beautiful images from FAST lenses shot WIDE open.  Photographers relish the subtle tones and luminous feel from an image created with an open aperture.

What does all that mean? A fast lens lets in lots of light ( f-stop 1.0, 1.4, 2 or 2.8) and allows photography indoors with a faster shutter speed.  Wide open photography is opening your lens to the widest aperture ( f-stop 1.0, 1.4, 2 or 2.8) to create a narrow focus look (minimum depth-of-field).


Why do we do it?  To create a look where the subject is partially focused or separated from the background.  It’s a beautiful look favored by many portrait, macro and glamour photographers.  The photos take on a nearly painterly quality that conveys romance and beauty.  It may not be for every subject or photo, but when used properly it produces truly stunning pictures.




Mark Comon


Cigarette Dude- Leica 50mm 0.95 @ 0.95
Larva- Nikon 85mm 1.4 @ 1.4
Flower- Canon 100mm 2.8 Macro @ 2.8

Join us July 26, 27, and 28 for our Hybrid Hangout Weekend event! It will be a weekend full of exciting, educational presentations, hands-on photo shoots, and tips from some of the best experts in the business. Read on for more info about what to expect, and click here to be directed to our registration page.


With hybrid, the possibilities are endless!

Have you heard about hybrid photography, the skillful blending of photo, video, and audio that adds incredible depth to photography?

Join three of the top hybrid photographers in the world – Will Crockett, Rob “Robby D” Domaschuk, and Suzette Allen – as we explore the newest hybrid shooting and processing techniques! These three talented professional photographers use everything from DSLRs to the latest in pro-level mirrorless equipment to create, show, and sell a huge variety of eProducts. These eProducts are not only fun and easy to make but they’re also incredibly profitable!

Using any camera that captures photo, video, and audio, now you too can learn how to capture and combine both moving and still images together to make your photographyleap off the screen.

What’s our recipe for a great weekend?

Simple! Take three hybrid photo seminars at Paul's Photo, combine that with three hands-on hybrid photography events at Redondo Pier, and then mix in plenty of time to Explore More In The Store with the Will, Robby D and Suzette. Finally, add in the factory reps and the cool staff at Paul's Photo who will help you transition into hybrid photography.

And, as an added bonus, there will be special appearances from Paul Gero and Steve Lynch – two of our amazing vloggers over at Discover Mirrorless.


Click here for the full schedule and registration options. We will see you there!